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Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Page: 1404

Carbon Pricing

Mr COLEMAN (Banks) (14:26): My question is to the Minister for the Environment. I remind the minister that dry cleaners are significant users of electricity and have been significantly disadvantaged by higher electricity prices. Is the minister aware that Clean Brite Dry Cleaners in Mortdale in my electorate is estimated to be paying carbon tax of more than $1,000 per year, with the additional cost 'killing the business' in the words of its owner. What obstacles stand in the way of removing the carbon tax?

Mr Bowen interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for McMahon will desist.

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (14:27): I thank the member of Banks, who represents thousands of small businesses and who is right to raise their concerns in this House against the contempt shown by those on the other side for small businesses with legitimate concerns about cost pressures. That which the member for Banks raised has also been raised by the Australian Industry Group. The Australian Industry Group identified from its surveys a 14½ per cent electricity price impact on its members as a consequence of the carbon tax. Let me repeat that: there is a 14½ per cent increase in electricity prices for the Australian Industry Group's manufacturing and small and medium business base. But it is more than just that. It is also about gas prices, which we know will come down by seven per cent, on average, when the carbon tax is removed. It is also about refrigerant costs. In particular, we know that if the Leader of the Opposition is elected as Prime Minister we will see a new trucking tax for carbon.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: And the member for Isaacs is not addressing anybody.

Mr HUNT: The trucking tax is part of their policy. Here is a chance for the Leader of the Opposition or any other member to rule out once and for all what they took to the election. Do they stand by the new trucking tax, which will hurt small businesses and owner-operators, or will they rule it out? We know also when we look at the situation of Clean Brite, which has been affected by higher electricity prices, that it is part of a $4 billion hit on electricity prices around the country, according to the Clean Energy Regulator. Those electricity prices are felt by mums and dads, pensioners, seniors, small-business owners and large-business owners. That is why the Australian Industry Group, the Business Council, the Minerals Council and ACCI have all called for the removal of the carbon tax immediately.

So the question goes to whether or not there are any obstacles. At the moment in the Senate there is a filibuster going on. What we see is that the friends from the Labor Party are debating the carbon tax bills by dividing them, by splitting them, by amending them, by seeking to have them run well beyond Christmas, so as to take away the removal of the electricity price benefit which would come when these carbon tax bills are gone. Right now, there is an obstacle to the carbon tax. It sits in front of us. It sits in the Senate. As the Treasurer set out, even the South Australian government is banking the savings for better health, better education and better police services by removing the carbon tax.